The two have jointly acquired 100% of the shares of Massachusetts-based Hans Kissle which produces and sells wholesale delicatessen main and side dishes, desserts, and other prepared foods for supermarkets and grocery stores in the north east region of the US.
Valued at approximately US$108m, the acquisition was completed on December 31 last year.
Under the acquisition, Mitsui will own 80% of the shares while Kenko will own the remaining 20%.
In response to queries from FoodNavigator-Asia, a spokesman from Mitsui said that the acquisition would enhance Mitsui’s offerings of value-added, prepared food products in the growing US food market.
“Hans Kissle’s strong track record in producing safe, secure, and delicious food products, achieved through a high level of quality control built over decades, has enabled the company to steadily expand its business in the growing US prepared foods market.
“Mitsui and Kenko will further enhance Hans Kissle’s capability by blending know-how and technology cultivated in Japan.”
In addition, Mitsui aims to reinforce Hans Kissle's market position and expand its reach, sales channels, and territory covered in the US’s prepared foods market.
He added that the population growth and changing food preferences led by diverse consumer lifestyles have expanded the US food market in recent years.
In view of the trend, the US prepared foods market is growing approximately 8% a year.
At present, Mitsui is selling products such as sandwiches in the US through its affiliate, Prime Deli, in Seven-Eleven Inc.
The US is one of the biggest markets for Japanese food and beverage.
According to the latest figures released by the Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, as of last year, the United States is the third largest buyer of Japan’s farm produce at JPY$117.7bn (US$1.06bn).
Besides Hans Kissle, Mitsui also recently acquired 25% shares of Ourofino, a Brazilian company which produces crop protection products, together with chemical manufacturer Ishihara Sangyo Kaisha.
Mitsui said in a company’s statement that it had identified nutrition and agriculture as a key new growth area in its medium-term management plan.
It said that Brazil was the world’s largest market for crop protection products, accounting for about 20% of the global market, hence the decision to invest in Ourofino.